Holdsworth, Autumn, Department of Environmental Science and Studies, Juniata College; Fields, Abbi, Department of Environmental Science and Studies, Juniata College; Merovich, George, Department of Environmental Science and Studies, Juniata College.
In this study we evaluated the use of constructed rock rubble for walleyes spawning in 2 locations of Raystown Lake. We created custom mesh-covered traps and deployed these in April 2022 to collect eggs during the spawn in 18 different locations at mile markers (MM) 14 and 15 before construction of the reefs. Our pre-construction sampling accounted for a total area of 403.06 m2 for over 2,800 trap-days from April 1st, 2022 to May 6th, 2022. During this time, we collected 49 walleye eggs. Numbers were highest from Apr 15 to Apr 29, with a total of 40 eggs collected. Average water temperature at this time was 10o C (50o F). Non-target collections were dominated by amphipods (scuds) but we also collected a possible Esocid egg, white perch eggs, and a juvenile green sunfish. In April and May of 2023, after the rock rubble reefs were in place, we sampled the same areas again, over constructed reefs and in control areas, to complete this BACI-designed (before-after-control-impact) study.
Our post-construction sampling accounted for a total area of 579.60 m2 for over 4,100 trap-days from March 29th, 2023 to May 15th, 2023 and 1,212 eggs were collected during this time. The highest number of eggs were caught between March 29th, 2023 to April 5th, 2023 with a total of 831 walleye eggs. During this time the average water temperature was 10.5 C° (51°F). Non-target collections were mostly bluegill, darter eggs, and virile crayfish.
With these findings, we hope future habitat restoration for walleye spawning continues to improve so that the walleye fisheries in the lake could depend less on stocking efforts and save management dollars for other needs.
walleye, spawning habitat, Raystown Lake. egg traps